Friday 6 November 2015

Autumn in a frock

I bought this autumnal dress a year ago and fully intended to shorten it...

but a combination of laziness and shortage of time means it's still exactly the same length as when I first wore it...

Oh well - it's fine as it is.

1970s English Lady brushed nylon dress - local vintage market
Boots - Ebay
1960-70s pendant - gift from Vix

 We're back into the routine of work and school this week

I am still waiting to hear when my new job will start; the shop fitters are in but a manager has yet to be recruited, so I'm carrying on in my current post, but feeling slightly in limbo.

One of the challenges of the vintage shop will be making sure we have appropriate stock in sufficient quantity. As donations come in to the other 12 shops run by the charity, the expectation is that the staff and volunteers will put aside anything "vintage" to pass on. I think they might need some support to identify the right pieces, an issue which the organisation also recognise.

So here's a question for you; if you were a volunteer sorting through stacks of donations in a charity shop, what would you need to know in order to have a hope of picking out potential vintage stock? Most of the shops get a lot of donations; which is great, but it means they are dealt with quickly, and having to consult lists or look things up will slow down the sorting process. Any information I circulate will therefore have to be pithy and easy to recall and act upon, in addition to which I'm well aware that not everyone is as interested in that old shit (and I quote a shop manager) as I am.

So, here's my question; if you had to give some short sharp pointers for identifying vintage donations (including clothing, accessories, jewellery, homewares, kitchenalia, linens and fabrics, pictures, etc - it's so hard to make an exhaustive list), what would you say?

I have lots of ideas myself, but it would be useful to get some different perspectives.

 So while you mull that over (or alternatively, while you think bugger off and do your own homework, you lazy arse), here are a couple of recent vintage purchases I would gladly have in my shop;

a 1970s "Tara" design Taunton Vale storage jar, and a floral still life print of indeterminate heritage. Both cheap as chips, and both from charity shops.

And look what lovely Lynn sent me to wish me luck in my new job - my very own vintage angel!

Do you think she looks a bit like me?

And speaking of look-a-likes;

doesn't the stalk on top of the pumpkin we grew in the garden look rather like Baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy?    

 We thought so!

I might just be dancing myself later; I'm off to see ABC. 

Can't wait!



Diane said...

See you late pal - sooooo looking forward to it. You got the job? I missed that!!! The (superior) quality of anything vintage is usually a give away when searching in Chazza shops - and tell your boss it's generally all "old shit" in there - otherwise it's just a shop!! PS Amsterdam looks ace! I've put it on my never ending list of places to visit!! xxxxx

Porcelina said...

Fab print on that dress! I really like how cheery it is.

I think labels are the best way to very quickly size up a piece of clothing.

Blogger Nora Finds did a super video recently on identifying vintage, can you get all the staff to watch it?!


Unknown said...

Love that cute jar ypu found! I tend to look and see if something has a barcode on decorative items. :)

Señora Allnut said...

fabulous print on your dress, whatever the length!, and you look gorgeous!, always love your accessorizing!
I've not advices to share about identifying vintage quality items, I'm not the best at this, indeed. But I think you're going to do it well, and motivate all those nonbelievers!

SAM said...

A list of labels, would be good, but I am guessing they go through very fast. Perhaps tips on pointing out the difference between true vintage and cheap knockoffs-fabric, lapel and collar links, fabric prints etc. The pumpkin is great. I love pumpkins with the long stems still on for decorating my porch. Very earthy.

Fiona said...

That frock is LUSH! Loving the cheerful colours, much needed I'd's been pissing down here for days.
Mmmm, How to identify vintage? I'd say look for quality or any labels that say 'Made in Britain'
"That old shit" !! very dare she ! I am imagining her wearing Primarni.
Just been listening to Simon Mayo, a caller said he was off to ABC tonight and I wondered if you were too...and you are! Shoot that poison arrow. xxxxxx

Melanie said...

I adore that dress. I have heaps of clothes waiting for my good intentions to spring into action, but until then, heh, I wear as is. This gem is so fabulous that it would dazzle at any length.
Vintage markers? - Zippers. Clunky metal ones are old.
I love your pumpkin stem. Hahaha. You are right.

at my dressingtable said...

Curtise I think the dress looks great just as it is !, must say great pictures once again have a great weekend xxxx

Suzanne said...

What great colour and pattern in that dress you are wearing!

I imagine it'll be quite the challenge getting others to recognize quality vintage pieces. I often have to do a double take myself, although I'm better at noticing the fabric straight off. Normally the fabrics were higher quality I find.

That angel does look like you!


Melancholy and Menace said...

And a gorgeous frock it is too! I love your pumpkin, it looks perfect, and yes just like Baby Groot :) Lovely vintage finds, too.

Hmm, in the absence of a label, the things I check when sourcing true vintage clothing are...

The zip: Older garments tend to have metal zips rather than vinyl, and most pre 50s dresses will have the zip on the side of the garment, rather than at the back.

Stitching: A lot of vintage clothing was hand stitched.

Fabric Quality: Vintage fabrics are often a better quality than mass produced clothing.

Have a wonderful weekend xx

mondoagogo said...

Why bother indeed -- looks ace as it is!

Apart from checking labels in clothes and on the back of plates, I'd also think about brooch clasps (dead giveaway!) I dunno about fabric as I think a lot of synthetic 70s fabric was just as nasty as the stuff they use now. To be honest I'm out of practice spotting stuff besides clothes as they never actually have real vintage stuff in any of my local charity shops (in any case, I just buy what I like, regardless of era). You might consider getting them to set aside vintage paperbacks though -- they're easy to spot and from what I can tell lots of charity shops would otherwise chuck 'em because they're not nearly new (again, that might just be a London thing, I can never find them anymore), which means people will appreciate knowing there's a place they can definitely find them!

Beth Waltz said...

I'll second Winter Moon's tips about zips, their material and position; and many others have commented on the quality of fabric being vastly superior in vintage goods to modern crap.

You might consider a "who would wear it?" poster, Curtise. Louise Brooks as the 20s icon, Ginger Rogers as the 30s icon, etc., running up to Princess Di and the bouffant 80s.

As for home goods? Would you find it in your granny's 50s kitchen, your mum's 70s kitchen, your weird hippy aunt's 60s kitchen -- the one with macrame and owls? Perhaps clips of ads from home mags of the periods would help.

Whatever you do, keep it visual and keep it simple. Rule of thumb: if it was Made in China, it's trash.

Goody said...

Just my opinion, but I like that length on you, especially with boots. Beautiful pattern too-reminds me of when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper and all the clothes had such great colours and designs. That's what's wrong with these kids today-boring clothes!

It might make sense to do a quick visit to the shops with some examples for people to look at, touch, and get the sense of the older fabrics. Almost anyone can spot the 60's and 70's stuff, but telling 80's from 40's can be tricky sometimes. When in doubt, I flip the label over to see if it was printed, or woven. It isn't a perfect system, but in all but the highest quality stuff the woven labels were gone by the 80's. Also, if there isn't a label in a formal dress, look down the skirt, or between the lining. Sometimes it is tucked away in a place where it won't show, or be irritating.

All that said, it might make sense to have a "when in doubt, let us sort it out" policy where you can send back anything that might not fit the bill.

No idea if that was helpful.I hope so. Good luck.

Melanie said...

Love the length of the dress as is, good job you didn't get around to shortening it, it looks fab! xx

bahnwärterin said...

glad that you never shorten that dress! its perfect!!!
for the work - i had a lot of volunteers in my live - and i found the best way to know things better is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! you should do little workshops where the volunteers sort thru some stuff while you watch them and show them whats good and worthy. you know that recognizing real vintage is mostly "feeling". and for the beginning they should put everything in doubt for your shop - you can sort it after. with time they will learn and will know whats great vintage.....
once i worked in a 2.hand shop together with mostly mental disabled women - but after half a year they pulled designer and vintage stuff from the donations like they did it their whole life :-)
hugs!!! xxxxxxx

Patti said...

That's a fab dress, and I really like the length as is. Yes it must be exciting and stressful a the same time to await the start of your new job.

I have a great eye for vintage (now) but I traded in it for several years on eBay. For quick decisions, it's label (cloth, nice, sewn-in) and zippers - nice sturdy metal ones. And if it says size 16, and when you hold it up it looks like size 6, it's vintage : >


mispapelicos said...

The length is perfect for me, but then again you should flaunt your gorgeous lengs.
If I was in a Charity shop sorting out clothes I would go maddddddddddddddddd with happiness, ahhahahhaha

Unknown said...

I am Groot ... love you in that hat !

Lynn Holland said...

I want first dabs on that dress when you've finished with it Curtise, it's gorrrgeous.
I think anything with made in England/Great Britain and St. Michael labels are good. Crimplene & Tricel on the label as well. Good luck with that one. Ditching T-shirt material would be a must for me.
Awh I think your little good luck angel does look like you.
Have a good week
Lynn xx

Ivy Black said...

An autumn dress of perfection and beautiful colours. Leave it that length I say!
Mmmmm...picking up vintage is easy if you've been doing it for decades.
If I pretend that I haven't I'd say, like Lynn, any British/English made labels are a good indicator as is small sizing, patterns and .
It may be a good idea to take some samples of clothes and pictures of kitchenware and collectibles etc. around the shops to show the volunteers what you're after and what is NOT SHIT. With a bit of luck, some of the volunteers will remember the stuff from the first time and will spot it.
Love your angel. She does look like you.
Loves ya.

Connie said...

Autumn Girl. You sure look fine. So glad you gave a close up of that print because it really is beautiful. I am such a lazy ass about altering things that lots of stuff has gone out of style and come back in again. The benefits of procrastination. I like Beth's ideas for identifying vintage. Plus older fabric was much thicker than modern fabric even the cotton. Many labels were square shaped and made out of satin and embroidered. Cliup on earrings ward Iusually vintage. No I'm not drunk. My keypad is going all wonky on me. Yep . Old photos on the walls or in a book are a good idea. Ok. Now I'll go have a drink.

Forest City Fashionista said...

Your little "Vintage Angel" is wonderful, and yes, she looks a bit like you! The colors in your Autumn dress match the colours in the leaves on the ground here.

I think Winter Moon has covered most of the suggestions I would make as to how to identify vintage items. Pretty much anything made in China is recent crap, but anything made in Japan, like dishes, etc. is usually old.

Olga Rani said...

Fabulous dress, nice looking as it is without shortening! And so cute personal angel! I am not good at identifying vintage myself and I'm thinking what tips would help me to do so...Labels list, fabric quality? But I guess one just needs some experience in working with vintage stuff just to get "the feeling" first

Angels have Red Hair said...

Autumn suits you perfectly … and it's the perfect length.
I'd be useless at picking out the vintage pieces … but I'd say things with proper labels and a feeling of quality.

Mother of Reinvention said...

Looking lovely in your Autumn frock. I would say that they should maybe look out for anything 1980's or before. Plus any fabric/sewing patterns (but of course I would say that) sets of china or things with "funky" patterns. Also suits, hats (except wooly ones) and evening wear. Plus any "labels" that might come in. I think that they will get the hang of it pretty soon. Hopefully you will be able to winnow out all the gems and stop them putting all the "old tat" in the bin! Xx

Mrs Bertimus said...

i think anything that says Made In England is a quick indicator for its vintage origins.
Perhaps there could be a little incentive for the 'Find of the Month' too, to encourage those who aren't into the vintage loveliness.
Hope ABC were fab, bet they were! x

freckleface said...

It's more than fine as it is, it's perfect. I really love it that length, it looks fabulous on you. That's quite a thought provoking question you've posed there. I know in the past when I've told people what I've got at the carbooty or whatever and I say 50s this or 70s that, they say, but how do you KNOW these things. And of course it's a combination of experience and learning, which are not tangible clues. So, maybe you could ask them what they think of vintage and if they think vintage is old shit or anything that's a bit old fashioned, or looks like fancy dress, then maybe ask them to look out for that? Maybe you could do a little interactive mini training session, taking in some 'retro' looking pieces like Primark often produce and some true vintage and get them to choose which is which? Or a little video which they could use for training staff in other shops across the country? Hope some of all our suggestions hit the spot! Xxxx

Sue said...

I quite like the length of your dress, looks really great with your boots, so obviously it was meant to stay at that length! Those Autumn leaves look gorgeous, I love Autumn leaves, and will enjoy them when our turn to have autumn arrives. As for the helpful hint, I was thinking you could make a poster sort of thing of pictures that could be on a wall near the sorters, visual aids are usually pretty good. Rather than confusing them with brand names etc. At least if you get things that aren't quite what you want you may end up with enough of the stuff you are after.

BadPenny said...

Several of our volunteers are really good at spotting vintage & my co-manager is Ace. We did a vintage sale when we took over the shop as so much was in store.
A very stylish dress & I LOVE your Angel x

Mim said...

That dress looks fab on you!

I think everyone's comments on looking at zips is a good one.

For jewellery, consider the weight - I find my vintage brooches tend to be heavier, cast metal, whereas the modern ones are lighter and made from pressed metal. Also, clip or screwback earrings tend to be older than ones with posts for piercings.

Boxy bags are also more likely to be vintage - they only really get big and slouchy from the 70s onwards.

Furfelt hats tend to be older (and vintage hats have much more attention to detail).

The Vintage Knitter said...

I like the length of the dress and it looks great on you - the print is totally Seventies, which is a good thing in my book!

Re: pointers for vintage stock, I'd say take a few things in and show them items they need to be looking out for. One main thing that stands out for me is the fabric and its feel; also the care label too as they were only introduced in about 1971 I think. Zips too can give away a garment's age. Good luck with the training event ;-) xx

Diaryofapennypincher said...

Your gorgeous Autumnal dress is the perfect length! As an ex charity shop sorter, I'd agree with previous comments re; zips and labels, especially if the label says "made in England". Sometimes the feel of something just gives it away, some items just feel more expensive. I'd also tell them not to chuck anything that is damaged if it is suspected vintage, things can be mended if they are worth it!

Kestrel said...

I think 'Made in England' is definitely a key indicator of vintage, plus lack of label indicating homemade. Or check if the content has good quality fibres like wool and silk. Also, if they find something that they think is weird/ugly, then go with their gut and sort that as vintage because it possibly is, and will fill someone's niche taste! If you had a few laminated pages that sorters could consult, with a few reminders and maybe images of labels as a visual guide.

Unknown said...

Love your autumnal dress I think the length works and looks great on you. I cant really think of anything to add to all the comments you have already received but hope its not to long until your new job starts and you are able to get stuck right in, dee xxx

Vix said...

That dress is a boster, so glad you didn't fiddle with the length. The print is stunning.English Lady did some great stuff. Lynn's angel has a twin and it's mine!
I can't think of anything intelligent to add (no change there, then) just drill into them that Atmosphere isn't vintage - I've yet to see a "vintage" rail in a chazza without a bit of Primarni.
All together now...Shoot that poison arrow through my heart....! Hope Martin Fry wore his gold suit.
Love you and see you soooon! xxxxxx

Jazzy Jack said...

That angel is a dead ringer for you!
No great ideas re identifying vintage, I'm pretty hopeless myself. Just tell them to look for "that old shit" maybe?!
I love this colourful dress and it looks fab with the boots!
Also loving the fur in the next post with your cute kitties all ruffled.
So adorable! Xo Jazzy Jack

Sheila said...

Some great tips here - for me, it's the fabric every time. Real vintage feels nicer than modern clothes, the fabric is thicker. But I like the tip of asking who would have worn this (grandma from the 50s, etc.) - that's a good shortcut building on the sorters' own experience. A mini-presentation/demo comparing vintage with modern is a great idea, pointing out things like zippers, labels (anything not from China/Bangladesh), fabric, is a fab idea.

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

That dress is perefect as it is! The colour and print are divine. I LOVE English Lady!
Good luck with educating the staff! xxxx

Trees said...

I love that I'm not the only one that buys a frock and lets it sit around for a year before the decision is made that the alterations aren't needed after all. I love that frock on you and although I realise I'm MEANT to be looking forward to summer, I really do prefer autumnal tones. I'm not really sure how I would instruct someone in identifying what is vintage - maybe look for locally made stuff, a lot of my vintage dresses are New Zealand made (and if not in NZ tend to be made in Australia, UK, USA...) rather than in sweatshops in more developing countries - sad, but true :(